With only two more events to go, there is no secret about who will make it to the Super Six of the ICC ODI World Cup 2023 Qualifiers. The round begins on June 29, 2023, after four teams from Group B battle in the concluding moments of the group stage.
Zimbabwe qualifies for Super Six with a record-breaking 304-run victory over the US. This has brought them on the history books for the second spot, just behind team India which has the biggest ever win margin against one of the strongest teams. That was on January 15, 2023, when Sri Lanka visited Thiruvananthapuram. The target was 391, and India was able to clinch a 317-run win with quite ease.
Talking ranks for the final time here, Zimbabwe is followed by New Zealand on July 01, 2008, when the team beat Ireland by 290 runs.
Circling back to the qualifiers, it was a one-man show with Sean Wiliams at the center of the stage. Zimbabwe’s skipper was declared Man of the Match for his 174-run contribution in 101 balls. That means the batter was riding at the strike rate of 172.28. This was a personal push that would have worked even if the run machine was going at a slower pace.
Openers had got the job done. Jaylord Gumbie, the keeper, scored 78 runs in 103 balls. The rate qualifies for a slower one, but based on the conditions, it is right to assume that the move was indeed needed at that time. Sean was on a spree already, and someone had to just be there on the crease.
The US continued experimenting with the bowling line-up. Abhishek Parashar was successful in picking up three wickets, including that of Sean and Sikandar Raza. He has played three ODIs at the time of drafting this article, picking up a total of 7 wickets. No reward for guessing that three of those wickets will forever be in his memory books. Imagine the width that the loss would have had if the wickets were intact for even 2-3 more overs.
The 36-year left-handed batter now stands tall with 4,776 runs in 148 innings. This is specifically for the ODI format.
In response to the explosive figures and shots, the US could not respond with a strong opening partnership. Steven Taylor and Sushant Modani collectively brought up only 6 runs. Not that the bowling unit of Zimbabwe extended beyond five bowlers, but batters themselves came under pressure. Considering they were out of the tournament before the event, the option they should have opted for is to hit and score big.
Seeing West Indies fall is like seeing fans cry for help. The two-time world cup winners balanced their qualifying group stage with 2 wins and 2 losses. The most recent defeat came against the Netherlands. This happened despite putting up a big score of 374 for 6 wickets in Takashinga Cricket Club. The Netherlands chased it with 1 wicket remaining. Landing a draw took both teams to the Super Over, where the skipper himself came to open.
Things fell apart after Logan van Beek played the entire Super Over for his side and brought up 30 runs at the strike rate of 500. The combination was 3-4s and 3-6s. Scott Edwards felt like a part of the audience who could have decided to just sit on the opposite side and watch the ball fly.
Jason Holder had no idea what got into the Dutch when the first throw was sent for the mid-wicket. That single boundary came with the impression that that was a single attempt to derail the plans of the Indies. Logan hit another shot to send a clear message that the opener was not just a hunch.
Came to West Indies, knowing that the only option was to hope that they get a no-ball or a wide ball to ease the tension.
Logan stuck the right chords yet again by sending Johnson Charles back to the pavilion. What worked for him was a full toss which responded toward the deep mid-wicket. The final blow was in the name of Romario Shephard, a batter who wanted to pull the shot but ended up getting hit by the gloves and then the fielder.
There is nothing wondering who the favorites were here. West Indies. Odds on the best cricket betting sites kept fluctuating throughout the event. Now, the question has to be asked. Wasn’t the in-form batter a more suitable choice for the Super Six? Nicolas Pooran was unbeaten for 104 runs in 65 balls. If the strike rate of 160 demonstrated anything, it was his understanding of the pitch and the bowling attack of the opponent.
West Indies are in Super Six now. It is time for them to leave the tragedy behind and focus on qualifying for the playoffs and then the top two positions. Zimbabwe is likely to deliver yet another upset and change the way one looks at them after winning over a strong team.